Coming vs. Staying

The necessity of the Church is not to appease saved folk. It is necessary because it is a place of refuge for broken souls. It is a place of fellowship…a place of hope…a place of promise. The Church, by God’s design, is a body of kingdom builders. With this in mind, I am a firm believer that God meets each of us where we are. We do not all come to know Jesus at the same time and not all of us have been saved all of our lives.

I am grateful for the church families who open their doors, arms, and homes to those who stand in need of a little more Jesus in their lives. Those types of churches specialize in helping to introduce people to Christ by welcoming people into the fold no matter their spiritual state. The message is loud and clear, “Come. As. You. Are.”

I support the “Come As You Are” mindset. However, I will not pretend to believe that coming as you are means that we are to STAY as we are. When you confess your belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, your personal Savior, and the One who died for the redemption of your sins, you must also open your heart and allow Him to come inside. I don’t claim to know much, but I do know that when Jesus enters a place, He does not leave it in the same condition in which He found it.

You cannot truly know God and remain the same. Opening up to Him, communicating with Him, and obeying Him will cause things in your life to change. The power of His love will transform you. Your perspective will change. Your convictions will change. Your life…it will change.

I think my good friend, Travis Greene, sums up my thoughts well with the lyrics of his song, “Hope.” Take a peek below.

Freedom’s here & I’m forever changed
No way I could remain the same
If you’re looking for the old me
Sin don’t live here no more, No!
That part of me has passed away
When God showed up, it could not stay
If you’re looking for the old me
I’ve been changed forever

Free to worship God with my whole heart
I’m not going back no more, I found my Hope

Nothing Before Us…

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” – Genesis 1:26 KJV

When will we learn? The bible is so full of reminders. Over and over, it speaks of God’s incredible (dare I say, INSANE) love for us. He didn’t need us. He had the company of His Son and of the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:26). Yet He created us in His own image and supplied our every need. We decided that having our needs met wasn’t enough. We wanted more and as a result, we introduced sin into the world. So, what did God do? He sent His Son to die for our sin while we were still sinners. We had not committed to change. Nevertheless, He showered us with the blood of Jesus and sustained us with grace and mercy. As if that weren’t enough, He wiped our slates clean, granted us favor as if we had obeyed Him all of our lives, and *drumroll please* gave us the gift of salvation. Redemption. Through acceptance of and belief in Jesus Christ.

What did we do to deserve such things? Certainly, He wouldn’t bless us in these ways if we had not earned them, right? Tuh. As if. The magnitude and depth of His love amazes me for this very reason. The bottom line is, God created us in His image and He loves us as such. Sure, we were not the first products of His creation, but when He created us…He gave us dominion. God didn’t put anything before us. Do you understand what that means?

He entrusts us with having a fruitful impact on His kingdom and His children. He gives us each gifts that we are to use to glorify Him and bring others closer to Him. He orders our steps so that we cross paths with others who will help us to complete our tasks. Though we have disobeyed Him and disgraced ourselves time and time again, He has not given up on us and has promised that He never will.

I will never truly understand why as long as I am on this side of heaven. I am okay not understanding. It doesn’t have to make sense. I’m just grateful that it is so. I’m grateful for a God that gives His all. I pray that He will continue to work within me so that I always have a heart that wants to give Him more and more of me each day.

We are sons and daughters of a King. If you were to be judged today, would your thoughts, words, and behavior reflect your place as royalty within His kingdom. Who do you serve? Who do you represent? What do you place before Him? Are you willing to rearrange your life to elevate God to the top of your list of priorities?

300 Pounds…

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” – 1 Peter 3:18

Pain tells us that we are alive. Scars remind us that we have survived. I remind myself of this all the time when I grow weary of life and its twists and turns. I have found that it requires a conscious effort for me to relinquish the hold that my past has over me. Somewhere along the way, I allowed my past to define me. I became that which broke me down. I held on to the very things that God was calling for me to release. I fell to my knees night after night complaining about the magnitude of my problems. I told God all about my overwhelming financial issues, the rejection I felt, the guilt of getting a divorce, the ugliness I saw in the mirror, the life that I flushed down the toilet. I told Him everything. I just knew that He would realize why my life felt so heavy. I knew He would understand. He knew everything about me…so He had to know the weight of my soul as well. I was sure of it.

Then, it hit me. THREE HUNDRED POUNDS. That’s how much it weighed…physically. In reality, it was so much heavier. It literally equaled the weight of the world. His cross. He carried it. While being beaten, spit on, and mocked…He carried it for me. And here I was (here I still am sometimes), slapping Him in the face over an over by complaining about battles that He has already fought and won on my behalf. I was no better than the ones who crucified Him. How dare I speak to God about the size of my mountain when He has promised me that if I just speak it and believe it…the mountain will move? How audacious of me to express anxiety over the amount of money in my bank account when the God that I serve has always provided for me? How ungrateful must I really be to expect pity over consequences faced when I knowingly acted out of His will for me?

Reflecting on the weight of His cross brings new perspective to my life. It offers healing. It represents restoration. It promises salvation. It reminds me that He understands my suffering because He too suffered. He does not judge my brokenness because like Him, I have been broken down so that His goodness can be glorified. I find comfort in knowing that God does not expect me to weather my storms alone. His strength is most evident when I am weak and for that reason, I will embrace the pain that once held me down. I will wear my scars proudly because they tell the world about my deliverance. Most of all, I will handle both my problems and my conversations with God a little differently. Rather than telling my God about my hardships, I will speak to my hardships about the immeasurable power of my God.

Heavenly Father…thank You for Your precious gift of redemption. Help me to never lose sight of the price that Jesus paid so that I might be freed of things of this world and made whole in You. When I feel as though my soul is heavy, give me the strength to take up my cross and continue to follow You. Amen.